Does James Harden want to keep playing for the Houston Rockets? The answer seems to change by the day. After initial reports earlier this month that Harden had “expressed concern” about the direction of the franchise, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this week that Harden was still committed to the team.
But that commitment must not be too strong, as he’s apparently also interested in playing for the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe. So far, however, the Rockets and Nets have not had any trade talks, and Houston is telling teams they are planning to bring their stars back.
Durant and Harden — past teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder — have recently discussed the possibility, but there have yet to be trade discussions between the two front offices.
Harden has been increasingly uneasy about the Rockets ability to compete for an NBA future and has been considering the possibility of pushing to play elsewhere before his contract expires, sources said.
The Nets are believed to be considering the viability of the idea, but it is unclear how far the franchise would go in delivering Houston the assets it might require to trade for Harden.
Considering the two sides haven’t had any actual discussions about a deal, nothing is imminent here. But as we all know, things can change fast around the NBA, especially if a superstar decides to throw his weight around — which, given the details of the report, it appears Harden may be doing in this situation.
The Rockets have had a tremendous run over the past few years, but there is a general sense that this era is coming to an end after the departures of Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey. With Russell Westbrook potentially on the way out as well, and their title window closing, it wouldn’t be shocking if Harden decides this is the right time for him to move on. And if so, what better place than Brooklyn, where he can reunite with D’Antoni and Durant, play alongside Kyrie Irving in the backcourt and potentially form an Eastern Conference powerhouse.
In Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen, the Nets have some young talent that could be enticing to the Rockets. Throw in a multitude of picks and you can see the outlines of a deal, though it should take much more than that to acquire an annual MVP candidate.
As of right now, there’s still a lot that has to happen before we’re watching Harden take the floor at Barclays every night, but it’s definitely worth monitoring this situation. If the Nets are able to pull off a deal to acquire Harden, it would be a monumental shift in the league’s power balance.